‘Dangerous inmate’ who slashed prison officer’s throat in bail bid

Maghaberry Prison
Maghaberry Prison

A 29-year old Belfast man awaiting sentence for slashing a prison officer’s throat was refused bail to attend a funeral after a Crown Court judge yesterday deemed him unsuitable for release.

Thomas Mongan made the application for compassionate bail to allow him to attend the funeral of his young niece at Belfast Crown Court.

Whilst in prison last March, he slashed the throat of a female officer - and is awaiting sentence on a charge of causing the officer grievous bodily harm with intent.

Mongan, from Riverview Meadows, was initially charged with attempted murder, but entered a guilty plea when the charge was lessened to one of GBH with intent.

Before refusing to grant Mongan compassionate bail to attend the funeral of his sister’s young daughter, Judge Stephen Fowler was told police were “strenuously objecting” to Mongan’s release.

Revealing there were several fears expressed, Crown prosecutor Kate McKay said bail was opposed, even “for a short period”.

Whilst saying the Crown is sympathetic to the “tragic” death of a young child, Mrs McKay said Mongan is due to be sentenced next month for the prison attack.

She told the court that last March Mongan was a serving prisoner, and said: “He was returning to his cell when the victim in this case, a prison officer who was working at the time, was attacked.

“He had put together an implement with which he cut her throat, just below the ear. It was quite a horrific injury, and it was totally unprovoked against a prison officer in her place of work.”

Mrs McKay also revealed that within prison, Mongan has been on the ‘dangerous inmates’ list. Telling the court only a small number of inmates made that list, Mrs McKay said it meant Mongan was deemed so dangerous that he had to be escorted by two prison officers at all times.

She said Mongan was taken off the list in July, but placed back on it again on August 8, when he was found in possession razor blade which was “secreted on his person”.

Defence barrister Joel Linsday said his client “accepts he will be going away for a very lengthy period of time”.

Mr Lindsday said Mongan was one of 11 siblings and that he and the young child’s mother were particularly close.

Mr Linsday told Judge Fowler that for the family, the funeral of a young child was “of paramount importance”.

The barrister said that while he accepted there were risks linked to Mongan’s release, his mother said she would collect him from prison and make sure he remained with her at all times.

Judge Fowler noted Mongan’s criminal record - which includes robberies, assaults and possession of weapons - coupled with his admission to an “extremely serious offence”.

Citing concerns about re offending, the seriousness of the offence and a “temptation not to return to prison”, Judge Fowler said Mongan was not a suitable person for compassionate bail.